Minwax oil stain - "wipe with clean cloth"

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Forum topic by d38 posted 04-11-2018 11:53 PM 849 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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138 posts in 866 days

04-11-2018 11:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing

OK, this could be a stupid question.
I’ll stain quarter sawn red oak with Minwax oil based stain for window jambs and trim, and have brewed up a color mix I like.
Topcoat will be HVLP spraying either General Finish 450 or Target 9300 waterborne.
This is my first time spraying, and also first waterborne. In the past I’ve used Watco Danish Oil, or Minwax Wipeon Poly.
During my mixing sample tests, I let the stain set 5 minutes, and then wrung out the cloth rag and wiped up the excess. And I like the color that gives me—I’d assume a very small amount of pigment is sitting on top of the wood, but the grain is clear and not muddy looking.
I see on the Minwax website it says to “Remove stain that has not absorbed into the wood with a clean cloth”
I did not wipe excess with a new, white cloth. I know doing so will pull color off the wood. But wringing out my rag didn’t leave much either and it dried fairly quickly.
I’d guess its a topcoat adhesion issue.
How do all of you complete the stain process? Wipe with a clean white cloth to get everything off, or just wring out the rag and wipe up what comes off?

9 replies so far

View Sunstealer73's profile


192 posts in 2697 days

#1 posted 04-12-2018 02:00 AM

I use a clean cloth. It shouldn’t remove stain that has soaked in, especially in oak. You also need to wait a while before top coating. I personally use shellac between stain and topcoat to ensure there’s no adhesion problems.

View mel52's profile


1187 posts in 869 days

#2 posted 04-12-2018 04:51 AM

There really is no such thing as a stupid question if you don’t know the answer. What I am getting at is, if you don’t know, ASK. There are many experts on this site that know tons of stuff and from what I have seen is that they will be happy to help you. Just my opinion.

-- MEL, Kansas

View Rich's profile


5136 posts in 1193 days

#3 posted 04-12-2018 05:29 AM

There really is no such thing as a stupid question if you don t know the answer. What I am getting at is, if you don t know, ASK. There are many experts on this site that know tons of stuff and from what I have seen is that they will be happy to help you. Just my opinion.

- mel52

There are also a lot of people posing as experts who will give you awful advice. I wish I could answer the OP’s question with authority, but I can’t. I’m far from an expert on stains.

I will suggest possibly trying dyes versus stains. It sounds like he wants clean grain that’s not “muddy” as he puts it. Dyes don’t contain the pigments that settle in the pores of wood. They color only and do a better job of highlighting the grain.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2131 posts in 767 days

#4 posted 04-12-2018 12:45 PM

I did learn another thing this past week about MinWax stains – - – -
I bought a fresh quart of MinWax Polycrylic for a project that I had stained with MW Red Mahogany
while getting ready to brush on the Polycrylic, (I normally use spar varnish),
I noticed in the very small print on the can of stain . . . it says to use any varnish,
polyurethane or other coatings but – do NOT use Polycrylic over “ANY” Red Mahogany stain…....
another reason that I do not use (or endorse) many minwax products. (if any at all).

Read, Understand and Follow the instructions on the label of all products you use.
Pay particular attention to the safety notes and heed the warnings accordingly.
any rags used in the prepping/painting process that have solvents, oils, stain or paint on them,
should be laid out in the open to completely air dry prior to discarding them.


-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3119 days

#5 posted 04-12-2018 12:51 PM

I’ve been one to buck the trend on this site – I do use Minwax stains now for about 40 years. I also like their lacquer, but hate their wiping stain, that thick stuff. That is junk. Also not a fan of their poly or their spray poly. Normal oil based stains, just fine.

Sometimes I wipe it on, but over the years I have found that it is a lot harder to get into a corner with a rag than a brush, especially when trying to get it all the same color.

My technique for quite a few years now has been to brush it on and leave it for a few hours, (it dries up fairly nice), then go back and wipe it with a clean cloth or lint free paper rag. Works for me wonderfully. I refinished professionally for 12 years in the 70’s and 80’s, and we used Minwax about 95% of the time using that method.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View d38's profile


138 posts in 866 days

#6 posted 04-12-2018 03:04 PM

Thanks everyone.
I’d like to wipe with the wrung out rag to grab the access stain, rather than a clean rag because I get a bit more color that way (the hard grained portion of oak doesn’t let much penetrate).
But we also need good adhesion of the top coat – and I realize if I slather it on with a saturated rag and leave it, all of that pigment left on the surface can cause topcoat problems.
On my test samples, I used Minwax waterbased poly in a rattle can, and it adhered fine. But I don’t know if there could be any long term adhesion issues.
Tennessee – your technique might work well for me. I’ll try a clean cloth wipe down on the dry sample board from last weekend.
My past projects were Watco oil or Minwax wipe on poly – so they’ll pull any excess stain off and gets wiped off at the end of the application.

View Robert's profile


3599 posts in 2085 days

#7 posted 04-12-2018 03:13 PM

Have you considered using a dye?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View d38's profile


138 posts in 866 days

#8 posted 04-12-2018 03:31 PM

I did buy a couple bottles of Mohawk Ultra Penetrating Stain, but couldn’t get consistent color darkness. Too much stain in the rag, and that part of the board looked different than the rest. I do need to learn and practice with it more for future projects – the old dog needs to learn those new tricks.
But for this window jamb/trim project, I’m going to stick with oil based Minwax

View OSU55's profile


2500 posts in 2594 days

#9 posted 04-12-2018 03:43 PM

Wiping off with a “dirty” rag will be fine, you just dont want it to be sopping wet (which yours isnt) since that leaves little lines etc all over as well as too much pigment. Leaving the surface damp is not an issue. Since you are topcoating with a wb finish, allow to dry thoroughly. Regardless of application method, after drying wipe all stained surfaces with 1:1 water/dna mix with a DAMP, not wet, cloth to help adhesion, it will remove oils not quite dry. Let the surface dry ( time depends on conditions) and then top coat. Not necessary with solvent finishes.

JMO, I wont use mw polycrylic on anything – way too soft. I havent tried their oil modified wb poly, I suspect it is much better. I much prefer dyes, but for pigment stains mw is ok. I use a lot of mw ob poly – good stuff, just needs to be applied correctly depending on the desired finish.

The real key to a dye is having enough open time to get even color and avoid lap maps, unless spraying on smooth wood like maple. Most otc dye stains use an acrylic binder. Ok but if topped with a wb finish there is no chatoyance. Target WR4000 stain base provides the chatoyance of oil but in a wb formula.

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